This week’s post was written by Josh Lentz.
This spring I decided to build an outdoor playhouse for my twins’ fifth birthday. My wife is Simpson Strong-Tie’s Director of Communications, and she sent me a link to a blog by one of Simpson’s Brand Ambassadors, Jen Woodhouse. Jen built a playhouse a year ago using Simpson Strong-Tie connectors. Then she blogged about it and included a set of easy-to-follow plans with a detailed cut list.
You’ll notice she calls it the Easy Kids Indoor Playhouse. The materials aren’t suited for outdoor exposure, particularly here in western Washington. So at her suggestion, I made some modifications to help it survive the rainy season. More on that later.
The inspiration to build the playhouse came in several forms. First and foremost, my wife told me do it. Having received my orders, I gave myself free rein in the tool department at The Home Depot. I wanted to build some shelves in the garage anyway, so I bought a circular saw, a jig saw, a brad nailer and a Sawzall. The Sawzall was just for fun.
The other inspiration was that I eventually want a shed to store my lawn mower and wheelbarrow. When the kids get tired of their playhouse in a few years, I’ll board up the windows and move it to the side of the house. Which brings me to a point about using Simpson Strong-Tie connectors – the four wall panels on the playhouse are connected using only the company’s A21Z angles. That makes the panels easy to take apart so when I need to move the structure, it’ll be simple enough to take down and reassemble.
It took me twice as long as Jen to build the playhouse, in part because I made a couple of silly mistakes (I attached the plates on the wrong side of the first frame I assembled; I took the cut list too literally – this is wood framing after all – and learned it’s a better strategy to measure and cut as you go rather than cut each piece ahead of time). I also lost 10 lb. in three days and gave myself elbow tendinitis in a desperate effort to complete the project before the kids’ birthday party. (By the way, use a scrap board for aligning the tongue-and-groove siding, not the palm of your hand.)
To make this an outdoor playhouse, I used marine-grade plywood for the floor and roof. I stuck with the pine tongue-and-groove siding and trim boards, but I used three coats of exterior-grade polyurethane. I also shingled the roof and attached a drip edge. And the “Z” on the Simpson parts means they have a ZMAX® (galvanized zinc) coating, for corrosion resistance.
Now the kids have their own outdoor escape, I have a bunch of fun toys (tools) and leftover scraps for making planter boxes, and my wife is happy.